Tuesday, April 16, 2013

University Students in Ecuador

I'm settled into my job now and enjoying my classes for the most part. I definitely have favorite classes and favorite--or not so favorite--students, but they are all pretty good kids. It´s crazy how different they are from university students in the States though--and how similar at the same time.
Kids here usually live with their parents throughout university and often well into their full-time adult jobs. I'd like to think of it as practical and everything, but I also think it makes them less mature. Most of them are given some sort of allowance and none have jobs outside of school that I know of. Of course, UDLA is one of the most expensive universities here in Quito, so most of the students come from very wealthy families. But still, it's crazy to me because it seems much more like high school still than university. All of my students whine constantly about homework or in class work or tests. Doesn´t matter if they are 18 or 23--they all whine constantly. However, this is mostly cultural. People whine here in order to get what they want. Some of my friends and I call it the Ecua-whine and it goes like this: you want something, such as a cheaper price in a cab, a better place in line, a visa, etc, so you turn on your sing-song little whiney voice and say things like "But pulllease. Help me with this pleeease. Don't be a bad personnn." But in Spanish of course, so more like "Ayudame por fAaavor. No seas malito!"
Yup. That´s how things get done, which is probably why I can't get things done here. Momma always taught me that whining was for babies and I just can't get used to doing it or listening to it. 
I mean, freshmen in the US are oftentimes not the most mature people either, but I feel like they have mostly accepted the fact that they have to come to class and do the homework in order to pass. I´m not so sure with these kids sometimes. It seems like they think that these things are sort of negotiable with a good whine. Of course, I suppose we do plenty of complaining in the US about homework and whatnot, but I never would have tried to talk my professor out of something. Also, students frequently just get up in leave class in the US if they have to for some reason. Here, the students constantly ask me, "Teacher can I go to the bathroom? Please Teacher?" As if I care. I just want to be like, "Listen, we are all adults here. Let's act like it."
A few weeks ago I got so annoyed with the chorus of "TEACHER PLEASE!! Can we go?" that arose with nearly 20 minutes left of class that I gave them a nice little lecture about whining. This was my level 1 class, mind you, so my lecture was mostly "No. Absolutely not. I will NEVER let you go early when you ask me like that. (Insert my own mockery of their whine here). No." They at first laughed uncomfortably and then stopped abruptly when they realized I was serious. It was kind of hilarious.

I later told my more advanced class about my hatred of the Ecua whine because they were asking me about cultural differences. They thought it was hilarious and have since started using the whine just to get me worked up once in awhile. It IS pretty funny though and it gives me some hope that they see the humor in it and realize why I hate it. 
Anyway, they really aren´t bad kids--well, some of them are, but most are pretty cool and I enjoy getting to know them a little as I teach them the finer points of English grammar. Sometimes though, I just want to ask, "HOW old are you?"


  1. I just found this again (I stopped receiving email notices?!). I LOVE hearing about Professor Stuvland! I am sure you are fantastic. Teaching is a job like no other --- often hard, but almost always entertaining/enlightening.

    I appreciate your reflections on travel, culture, etc. Your insights feel spot on. And lady, man oh man do I feel your wanderlust. We're kindred spirits on that mark. Continue to experience life, you'll never regret this time.

  2. Bean! I apparently don't get notifications about comments, either. Great to hear from you. Yes, teaching is pretty tough sometimes--I don't know how you did it at PHS--but then I somehow love all my little brats.
    Yeah, wanderlust has taken hold again...we'll see where I end up. :)

  3. Funny I have just been teaching at Uni in China for 3 years and it's just the same.The students are really juvenile and act more like middle schoolers back home.Plus the boys and girls are so Shy! They sit on opposite sides of the classroom.I would love to try Ecuador next.